BJP lost Jharkhand due to tribal anger: Experts

The Raghubar Das government's efforts to grab tribal land to give to industry alienated the community, they said

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Monday 23 December 2019
BJP lost Jharkhand due to tribal anger: Experts
Hemant Soren, who is widely expected to be the next chief minister of Jharkhand. Photo: @HemantSorenJMM
Hemant Soren, who is widely expected to be the next chief minister of Jharkhand. Photo: @HemantSorenJMM

Anger and resentment of Jharkhand’s tribals caused the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lose the state assembly elections, the results of which were declared on December 23, 2019.

Though counting was still going on in some districts, incumbent Chief Minister, Raghubar Das of the BJP has already thrown in the towel. The party’s tally is presently 24.

Though it has emerged the single-largest party in the 81-member house, it has failed to reach the halfway majority figure of 41.

Meanwhile, Hemant Soren, chief of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha is all set to become the next chief minister of Jharkhand as his alliance with the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal is way past the halfway mark, leading in 48 seats.

Psephologist Ashish Ranjan, who travelled across the state during the elections, said the tribal community was angry with the Raghubar Das government. That is because it had initiated legislative changes to acquire tribal land, which the community feared, would be snatched from them.

The BJP government had recently organized a programme called ‘Momentum Jharkhand’ as part of which, industrialists had been invited to invest in Jharkhand. For this, the government had earmarked 21 lakh hectares of land and asked industry to choose plots according to their convenience.

To acquire the land, the government had tried to amend the Chota Nagpur Land Tenancy Act, 1908, and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act, 1949, in 2016. After huge protests, the state governor Draupadi Murmu had rejected the proposal.

During the protests, many tribals had put up giant plaques outside their hamlets, declaring their gram sabha as the only sovereign authority and had banned ‘outsiders’ from entering the villages.

This protest came to be popularly known as the ‘Patthalgadhi Rebellion’ and was seen across the Khoonti, Chaibasa, Latehar, Lohardaga, Shimdega and other districts.

Tribal activist Sunil Minj said the incumbent government had filed FIRs against at least 10,000 people and many were still languishing in jail. Tribals, who dominate 28 seats in the state, were now happy and expected no MoU that caused a grab of tribal lands to be signed, Minj said.

Other than the land issue, people were concerned about increasing inflation and unemployment, he said, adding that though city-dwellers were not as angry with the Das government, they wanted to send a signal to the Centre.

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